World

Trump, Biden trade verbal blows as election race hits final stretch

WASHINGTON : US President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden traded tough blows on Monday as the White House race entered its final stretch, with the Republican leader branding his opponent "stupid" - and the Democrat firing back that the president lacked the "guts" to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

As Mr Biden and running mate Kamala Harris took their campaign message to must-win swing states Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the president convened a surprise news conference at the White House.

In a freewheeling and grievance-laden performance, Mr Trump once more teased the possibility of a Covid-19 inoculation by election day - something experts say remains unlikely - and accused his opponents of playing politics with a vaccine after Ms Harris said she would not take his word alone on its safety.

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Touting an upswing in job creation - after tens of millions lost jobs - and claiming the US is turning the corner on the pandemic, he called Mr Biden "stupid", saying he "wants to surrender our country to the virus, he wants to surrender our families to the violent left-wing mob, and he wants to surrender our jobs to China".

Labour Day (celebrated on the first Monday in September in the US) traditionally kicks off the final sprint of the campaign. But with less than two months until the Nov 3 election this year, the rival campaigns have been knocked off stride by multiple layers of turmoil, from the pandemic to the struggling US economy to deep racial unrest.

Candidates who normally would be skipping daily from state to state to speak before big crowds are limiting their movements and doing much more virtually. - AFP

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